Kirkus Reviews QR Code
WINTER SWALLOWS by Maurizio de Giovanni


by Maurizio de Giovanni , translated by Antony Shugaar

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 2023
ISBN: 978-1-60945-727-3
Publisher: World Noir

Commissario Ricciardi faces murder among a theatrical troupe whose members are just as devious as he is.

No one, least of all himself, disputes the fact that fading theater star Michelangelo Gelmi ended the second evening show of the revue at the Teatro Splendor by shooting his co-star and wife, Fedora Marra. This time, however, the beloved star didn’t rise for her curtain call because someone had substituted live ammunition for the blanks with which Gelmi had shot her repeatedly in the run-up to Christmas 1933. Gelmi swears he never would have killed the love of his life intentionally; Erminia Pacelli, the dresser for the Teatro Splendor, insists that she was stationed outside the door of Gelmi’s dressing room before the performance began and saw no one enter. It’s up to Commissario Luigi Alfredo Ricciardi and his sidekick, Brigadier Raffaele Maione, a conscientious detective but a terrible driver, to sort out the case. Readers who know more than they do may be distracted by the problems faced by Livia Vezzi, a widow who’s under pressure to get very, very close to Maj. Manfred von Brauchitsch, a visiting German officer whose advances Enrica Colombo has rejected because she’s in love with Ricciardi, and by Lina Scuotto, a prostitute who’s been beaten nearly to death by someone whose identity nearly everyone her favorite client, medical examiner Dr. Bruno Modo, talks to seems to know but won’t reveal. Ricciardi’s superior, who can’t see why he hasn’t arrested Gelmi, keeps him on a short leash. Fortunately, as Maione reflects, there’s still time to investigate because “nobody’s going to kill anyone between Christmas and New Year’s Day.”

Even fans of the series are likely to be surprised when the curtain finally falls.